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Tiki Barber has a mechanical fix for Matt Jones' fumbling problems

Tiki Barber has a mechanical fix for Matt Jones' fumbling problems

There are so many issues in sports that affect athletes and can only be overcome by being in a good place mentally. But when it comes to fumbling — something that can doom an NFL running back's career — Tiki Barber says the fix comes more from the physical side than the thinking side.

And, as someone who was once plagued by putting the ball on the ground but eventually improved in that aspect of the job, his insight into the topic is very relevant for someone like Redskins running back Matt Jones.

"It sounds harder than it actually is, because it's all mechanical," Barber told the Sports Junkies on CSN Wednesday morning. "It's not an awareness thing."

Upon remembering Barber's post-fumbleitis running style and hearing him discuss it, Eric Bickel poked fun at the three-time Pro Bowler by calling it extreme. The ex-Giant didn't take offense to that, either — because that style is what took him to the next level.


"It was extreme, but it actually helped me become a more effective runner," he said. "Just put it higher, and kept my elbow down. But more importantly, when you go into contact, you cover it up."

"Now, the traditional way to cover up a football is to put the ball perpendicular to the ground," Barber continued, before explaining why that's not the best method to use. "It's across the ground, it's across your body, but there's nothing supporting the ball underneath. The actual way to do it is to put the ball vertical to the ground, wrap your off-ball hand across your on-ball hand, and go to the ground with basically an 'x' across your chest as opposed to two parallel boards across your chest. It was a very simple fix and a mechanical one that just took some drilling in." 

Barber did sound optimistic about Jones' future, and said when he first saw the 2015 third-rounder play, he predicted he was going to be "a stud." However, Barber noted that when he kept fumbling in New York, there was no better backfield option so he was allowed to work through it, while Jones was benched in favor of Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson.

Of course, there's no denying Jones' talent, because it's there and he's shown it plenty. In fact, he may even have more of it than Kelley and Thompson. But a head coach will almost always choose a running back who demonstrates more ball security over one who doesn't, which is why there's so much uncertainty for No. 31 heading into the offseason.

The offseason, though, is the period of time on an NFL schedule where new skills can be added and flaws can be addressed. According to Barber, all Jones needs to do is make one simple switch, then ensure that switch becomes second nature.

If he can, perhaps his stint as a second thought in Washington will be put to an end.


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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.